Everyone has experiences that change the way they perceive one of their five senses. Altered Tastes is an ongoing feature where I discuss culinary moments that rewire my sense of taste forever. Without further adieu...
I love mushrooms. Love them. I will judge any produce section by the variety and quality of their mushrooms. Usually, I am into the exotics. Mushrooms that can't be easily cultivated. You know, the good stuff. But I digress, because today, I discuss:
The garden-variety, white button mushroom.
The vanilla of fungus, found plastic-wrapped in produce aisles at every grocery store. Sliced raw atop all the most uninspired salads I have eaten. I've never given this mushroom much consideration. In fact, I am generally prejudiced against them.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a mushroom farm. Walking past a steaming pile of compost, and I mean steaming, we entered one of the pens.
Mushroom studded compost pallets extended as far as the eye can see. It was a cross between an alien landscape and a perverse marshmallow-mushroom nightmare.
"Can We Taste Them?"
"Sure." said our guide.
With a simple twist, the entire mushroom came out of the soil.
I do not like raw mushrooms. I do not like them.
Wiping off of the small amounts of dirt...
Don't mushrooms grow in poo?
I hesitantly took a bite.
It was incredible.
Meaty with a delicate, earthy flavor. Moist. None of that dry woodiness, or 'shroom slime. Another bite and the mushroom was gone.
What the hell have I been eating all of these years?
In a single bite, every white button mushroom I have ever eaten immediately became stale.